But ’70s surfers didn’t wear skinny jeans

They say everybody sells out eventually

One of the crew trying to avoid contact with Pat Nixon.
  • One of the crew trying to avoid contact with Pat Nixon.

I’ve decided to do the sensible thing by breaking down this message, clause by clause (the letter writer’s query in italics), to tease out the subtleties. After all, we’re not so different, he and I.

Dear Hipster:

I am pretty certain that guys from my generation who read your column are laughing their asses off every week.

Not quite sure whether you mean this as a compliment, so, in the spirit of Millennial vanity, I’m just going to take it as one.

No one before or since has done hip like the late-’70s surf enclaves of La Jolla, PB, Mission Beach, Point Loma, Coronado, and IB.

The ghosts of long-dead jazz musicians and the of as-yet-unborn flannggers (trust me, flanngg is going be huge in the 2080s) might not concede that point without a fight, but...fair enough!

We spoke our well developed language, with names for everything, and a long list of very creative verbs for everything we did.

Argot is at the soul counterculture. It’s also the key to entry. For example, you’re not a proper hipster till you understand the importance of the phrases, “I feel so much better since I stopped eating gluten,” and, “Yeah, I used to be into that, too.”

We had our own fashion protocol. Clothing companies are still copying stuff today that we made popular on the beach back then.

And it probably takes the jam right out of your donut that Hurley and Quiksilver stick that $65 price tag on every set of boardshorts, right? For my part, the day I see full-priced, brand-new, repurposed, thrift-shop grandpa clothes on the rack at Nordstrom is the day I know that the hipsters either fully sold out or suffered a hostile takeover.

In those days, cops didn’t go on the beach very often. We were our own police force, and we took care of our own.

Hipster self-policing usually extends no further than ostracizing the occasional pose(u)r for buying beef that ate something other than grass. Your sentiment has a distinctly sinister flavor.

For most of us, surfing was an all-consuming passion.

You say “surfing,” I say “working tirelessly to get that folk dubstep confab off the ground.” Let’s call the whole thing “passion.”

A job was often structured around your time in the water.

Or your time spent scouring the swap meet for vintage records, whichever.

Some of us had to manufacture ambition and get decent jobs later in life simply to continue the pursuit of surf.

They say everybody sells out eventually. I don’t say that, but “They” do.

Every crew had shapers and ‘glassers. Buying boards off the rack was usually frowned upon.

I could say the same for drinking instant Folgers and Michelob.

Many of us disliked the idea of formal competition.

Again with the anti-selling-out stance.

Go look in the 1978 volumes of your hipster encyclopedia and you will find a huge group photo of our entire crew.

No shit. There you guys are, right after the obituary for Keith Moon and on the same page as the first Garfield strip under the heading, “Things That Will Maintain Surprising Traction Deep into the Next Millennium.”

Don’t mind the ones with their middle fingers raised high in the air.

  • — Vince

Don’t worry. I don’t.

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